“I’ve been having a lot of nightmares lately,” said Andy.
“Really? Why do you think that is,” said Carmen.
“I don’t know. They’ve just been really weird dreams. Like, aggressive and full of pretty disturbing imagery,” said Andy.
Carmen put her coffee cup on the wire metal table and brushed her long black hair off her face and up into a casual Sunday style pony-tail. Andy admired the ease with which she did this. It was something girls just seemed to know how to do without getting their fingers stuck or knotting their hair.
“Like what kind of disturbing imagery,” asked Carmen.
“It’s a dream, so it’s sort of hard to describe, but,” Andy paused. He wasn’t sure how much he wanted to tell Carmen about his recent nightmare. It was not very pleasant at all, “I really don’t know where it’s coming from but it’s… bad. I don’t want you to judge me.”
“Oh I won’t judge you. I already think you’re a lunatic so it shouldn’t be an issue. Really,” assured Carmen as she smiled.
She had pulled her knee up to her chest and was holding her leg up against her body. It was a just a very casual day for her yet she looked lovely. It made Andy feel a little embarrassed about his own, un-showered, unkempt Sunday look. She had called Andy out of the blue to grab a Sunday coffee with her. It was something Andy certainly never expected. Carmen smiled at him patiently. Andy put down his own coffee cup and took a short deep breath.
“Last night I dreamed I was beating up a little kid. Like a pre-teen kid. Like, hurting him,” confessed Andy.
“What? Like how,” asked Carmen.
Andy looked over the small Sunday morning coffee café crowd. He wanted to make sure no one else was listening to what could, if taken out of context, amount to child abuse. He felt that they were isolated enough that he could continue with his dream confession.
“I was at some party, some kind of big cook-out and there were all these kids and people all over the house, in the kitchen, in the yard, just people all over. I really didn’t recognize any of them at all. But I was in the kitchen and there were all these kids around and what seemed to start with some joking around, rough housing, turned very serious. I found that I was furious at one kid in particular. He was just a kid, that long bushy hair crowning his head. He was skinny and wearing an orange shirt that seemed to change to black and then back to orange. I suppose that’s not important though,” said Andy.
The waitress came over to the table of the coffee shop and asked if Andy or Carmen wanted to try one of their fresh Biscotti. She had a small tray of them held out in front of her, almost daring a person to take one off the tray. Carmen politely declined and encouraged Andy to continue.
“This is great, go on. It’s just fascinating,” said Carmen.
Andy smiled and wondered if it was great to tell a pretty girl about his dreams of beating up children. He continued despite his worries.
“So anyway, this kid, he was just so annoying. He was actually getting in my face. Like being a real rotten, psycho douche-y kid. He was trying to, I don’t know, bully me? The dream sort of changed then where I now somehow had to help this kid out with a project in his bedroom. It was one of those cool kid bedrooms you see in catalogues or movies. Like cool dressers and bunk-beds and a really neat desk area, painted really nice. I think I was trying to fix the kid’s dresser drawer or something and he kept needling me about something. Telling me that I was wrong and that I didn’t know what I was talking about and he was just pushing all my buttons,” said Andy.
He felt a little uncomfortable now. He felt the intensity of Carmen’s gaze as she listened to his story. He wasn’t sure about this girl. She was so sweet to him and friendly but often times a bit aloof and distant. He wasn’t sure how much of himself he wanted to open up to her, even though deep inside, he knew that he really wanted to be open with her. He sighed.
“So this kid, this little rat-faced pain in the ass kid just wouldn’t stop needling me so I grabbed him by the throat and pushed him up against the wall over his bunk-bed, over the top bunk. Like the kid was dangling by my grasp on his little throat. It was just weird, like I could feel the kid’s weight, even though it was just a dream. And I yelled at this kid. I yelled something about how I was sick of his bullshit and I would kill him if he said another word to me. I let go of the kid and he seemed unharmed, like, unfazed by the throat grabbing incident,” said Andy.
“Oh my god. That’s so crazy,” said Carmen.
“Hey, I thought we weren’t judging here,” said Andy.
“I’m not judging you, I mean, I’m just saying that’s a crazy dream situation,” said Carmen.
Carmen took a sip from her coffee cup. Her eyes were wide with interest and Andy could see that she wasn’t judging. Although a certain twinkle in her eye did betray some train of thought Andy couldn’t quite figure.
“Anyway, after I let the kid go I continue fixing whatever I’m supposed to be fixing and I feel this sense of urgency about getting out of this kid’s room. This kid just won’t stop hassling me. He keeps going and it’s just making me more and more angry. I don’t remember what he said to me but I remember finally snapping, full blown crazy I’ll kill you all crazy, and grabbed his hand and bent it back so far that I broke his wrist and hand. I said to him, ‘You don’t know what hard is you little shit! You don’t know what poor is! You have no idea what I’ve been through!’ And I let the kid go. He’s screaming about his broken arm but also out of fear at what I had just done to him. I woke up at that point. Really rather freaked out,” said Andy.
Carmen sat quietly for a moment. She was absorbing the details that she could.
“Was the little kid you? Like a younger, inner child version of you,” asked Carmen.
“No. At least I don’t think so. He didn’t look like me. He was like a Hipster’s kid. All cool substance but soulless. If that’s an image you can understand,” said Andy.
“I get it. I do. That’s certainly a disturbing dream. Do you know what it means,” she asked.
Andy looked out at the traffic on the street and could only remember waking up feeling angry. He remembered feeling stressed and disconnected.
“I don’t know really. It’s probably just stress,” said Andy dismissively.
“Sounds more like real rage, or frustration to me. Rather than just plain old stress,” said Carmen.
Andy shrugged a little and played with the paper napkin on the table.
“I guess I could really use a good night’s sleep, unterrified by my own nightmares,” said Andy.
“Yes. I would love a good night’s sleep for once. I’m like always so stressed out these days,” said Carmen.
Carmen took a final swig from her cup of coffee and pushed it to the middle of the little café table.
“Well, thanks for meeting me for a quick Sunday coffee. I have to get some stuff ready for work and get some shopping done,” she said as she rose from her seat and put her small purse over her shoulder.
“Oh, so soon,” asked Andy.
“Yeah. Just got lots of things to do. Ha-ha, talk about stress,” she joked, “But I’ll see you during the week.”
“Well, alright. I will see you during the week then,” said Andy.
Carmen awkwardly hugged Andy as he stood from his seat. It was that aloof hug; the dreaded non-committal half-hug. The hug that says, I enjoy you and maybe like you but I don’t know if that’s really what it is so here’s the bare minimum of human contact hug. She thanked Andy again for being so nice and meeting her and she left the small café. Andy sat back down and watched Carmen cross the street outside and out of view. He looked back in toward a new group of Sunday morning coffee drinkers. Now he was one guy, taking up a whole table. He felt awkward about it. He got up and threw the coffee cups in the trash and headed for the door.
“Damn it,” he said as he crossed the street, “that was the dumbest story to tell her. Idiot,” mumbled Andy to himself.
He walked back to his apartment, shaming himself for being too open with Carmen.